Buffalo: “America’s Best Designed City”

by Maxwell Tielman


If you read my posts with any sort of frequency [don’t worry, I won’t hold you to that, you’ve got a life], you know that when it comes to my hometown of Buffalo, New York, I can get pretty excited. Like, really excited. Like, riding a horse, swinging a flag, and blasting a trumpet down the street kind of excited. As far as hometown pride goes, mine borders on creepy obsessive (in fact, I’m happy Buffalo hasn’t taken out a restraining order on me yet—thanks, Buffalo). So, when a little video called “Buffalo: America’s Best Designed City” started making its way through my social media feeds, you could bet your bonnet that I was going to share it here.

Alright—full disclosure. This film was produced by Buffalo resident John Paget in order to draw attention to this amazing, albeit oftentimes forgotten city and it was helped out by a number of Buffalo-based organizations. And my father appears in it. But still. All that mega-bias and nepotism aside: this video speaks the legit, objective truth. Don’t even try to argue with me on this, because I will have none of it.

The short film takes a sweeping look through the city’s historic roots—from its epic Olmsted Park system to its monumental architecture—and shows the strides it has taken to reinvigorate itself in the twenty-first century, from creating miles of new bike lanes to reshaping once abandoned neighborhoods into bustling cultural hotspots. Every time I return to my hometown, I witness what I can only describe as a Renaissance—a Rust Belt Cinderella story of sorts. New, exciting businesses are opening up, bold public art projects are being erected, the streets are alive with people, and it seems that everybody is feeling the infectious “Buffalove.” And what’s not to love? We’ve got amazing 24-hour restaurants, houses for a dollar, adorable accents, and some of the best architecture and art in the country. The city still has a way to go, but it is becoming a shining example to follow, both in terms of urban planning and sheer team spirit. So—Let’s Go, Buffalo! I can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store for you! —Max


If you want to see some more great things to do while in Buffalo (and if you want to indulge my Buffalo-craze even more), check out the City Guide I wrote about it here.

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  • As a fellow native Western New Yorker who left the area for a bigger city (Chicago), I was pretty excited by watching this video. My one criticism would be that they didn’t include any scenes from winter months- there’s beauty and fun in that too, and everyone knows that Buffalo isn’t green and sunny all year round!

  • Despite 1) having live for my first 22 years ‘nearby’ in Pittsburgh; 2) having been conceived (hehehe) there; and 3) vacationing only 1 hour south EVERY year for the past 15 years, last summer was the first time I’d actually visited Buffalo proper (I’d been to the airport numerous times, but that hardly counts).

    I LOVED it. We only spent a weekend, but we saw Shakespeare in the park, the Albright-Knox (loved!), the Darwin House (seriously, can I move in?), explored neighborhoods, and did plenty of hanging out in cafes in Elmwood Village. I live in Boston now and am totally snobby about wanting good food choices and — to my surprise — Buffalo had some great restaurant options that exceeded what I expected to find.

    If we were younger and pre- kid in school, mortgage, etc., I’d move to Buffalo in a heartbeat. Perhaps retirement…

  • When I met the man who became my husband, he lived in Buffalo and I lived in Rochester (about 60 miles apart). Because of jobs/careers, we settled in Rochester when we married 4 years ago, but I spent a lot of time in Buffalo when we were dating and we go back fairly often. I can tell you this city is amazing and revitalizing itself, as the video depicts. I am not a native New Yorker and my perception of Buffalo was totally different than what it is. I would live there in a heartbeat. Lots of Buffalove here:-) BTW…Rochester is pretty great, too.

  • I only spent 2.5 years in Buffalo (for grad school), but that city…she stole my heart, and in return I adopted her as my “home town.” I loved it there and would move back in a heartbeat (I’d have to convince the other half, but I don’t think it would be that hard). I totally get the Buffalo pride, and I defend her with all that I have, and I always will.

  • Thanks for writing this, Max! I have family in Rochester; and the next time I’m in that part of the country, I’ll have to hit some of these places up.

    Also, if you guys ever want an updated list of things to do and see in South Florida, I’d be happy to help you with suggestions! I know you’ve already published city guides for places such as Palm Beach; but they’ve grown a little stale…

  • so nice to see a feature on Buffalo, NY. A former New Yorker with roots in Rochester, Henderson, Watertown, Syracuse and Buffalo NY. Spent 4 years @SUNY Buffalo with lots of great memories. Loved the city guide. Still remember those Garden of Sweets scoops of ice cream, beef on wick, Bocce club pizza, chicken wings. Thanks for sharing.

  • Loved this!! I’m curious, Max, if you’ve had the chance to treat your D*S colleagues to a personal tour of our great city?

  • Still in Buffalo and loving it!! This video is great, and I’m really hopeful that it will continue the current revitalization of this city!

  • I was born and live in Europe, but two times in my life. I lived there for six, and 12 months. I went to school and later on to UB School of Architecture there. I loved it! Thanks for sharing this!

  • Max – Thanks for sharing this with the rest of DS readers out there, I always get pumped when I see you post about Buffalo. I’ll have some before and after submissions and hopefully a sneak peak submission for you someday – just bought my first house by Allentown/Kleinhans in May!

  • I’m a Canadian. Specifically a Winnipeg’er. When I vacationed in Toronto this spring I caught a Jet’s game in Buffalo. Great city! I went to the Coloured Musicians Club and had the time of my life. Don’t be fooled by the shabby appearance of the venue, it hasn’t changed it’s appearance since the 30’s and it shows, but stay for the music! It’s an amazing mix of cuban rythms, big band, and jazz. I ended up skatting with a vocalist from New York and making a half a dozen new friends. I loved my time in Buffalo, great city!